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OSHW Definition: We take a crack at saying what it means to make a piece of hardware "open source".
Alicia Gibb and Ayah Bdeir put together and hosted the Open Hardware Summit a few days before Maker Faire New York. It was an amazing event! Almost all the usual suspects were there, too many to list here, but it was great to hear from everyone (over 300 people attended) on their thoughts on what Open Source Hardware should be. There is a very active group of folks (namely Windell Oskay, David Mellis, and Phillip Torrone) who are hashing out what OSHW should be, what it should stand for, and how we should define it as a group. It's fairly amazing to me to watch our community debate cordially and tirelessly towards this goal. I am proud to be a small part of a group that can get along so well and create such amazing art, ideas, and businesses.
The Arduino Fio - an OSHW collaboration co-designed by Shigeru Kobayashi.
The OSHW statement of principles:
Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs.
What is the point of having an OSHW definition? So that you and I can have an expectation of communication. Said another way, when you create an open source hardware design, I have a level of expectation about what is included: Editable design (PCB, mechanical, etc) files, firmware, etc. What we (SparkFun) need most is a way to mark our boards (products/electronic devices) as meeting a level of openness. v0.3 of OSHW is pretty reasonable in our eyes.
Another piece of OSHW - the Xbee Explorer USB.
Open Hardware = some device that you can talk to because it has a well-documented interface.
Open Source Hardware = some device that you can replicate and develop freely because you have access to the source. I like and want Open Source Hardware.
One of the major points is with an OSHW project you are allowed to re-mix and re-sell (make money) on another person's design as long as you maintain attribution. All our OSHW products will have this stipulation. Non-commercial license are not fully open in my mind. Read more about the Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons - NC license.
A handful of items from companies supporting the OSHW movement.
We realize we are far from done and this is just the definition (no SparkFun-friendly license has yet been written). I welcome comments and be sure to read up and discuss the latest on the Open Hardware Summit forum.